The Koke era is seemingly over in Houston before it ever got a chance to begin.
Houston Dynamo president of business operations Chris Canetti told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Monday that the club will initiate the process to grant the striker’s request to terminate his contract when the league resumes business Tuesday.
“[Koke] met with Dominic [Kinnear] Saturday after the game and said he wants to leave because he’s unhappy with his situation,” Canetti said.
The request came as a surprise to the Dynamo front office as they were unaware of any issues with the striker.
“There was nothing that happened before Saturday that led us to believe there was an issue,” Canetti said. “We asked him to stay and give it more time, but he said he wants to return home immediately. Dom and I spoke and decided that we’ll oblige his request and let him go.”
Koke’s signing was the result of a long search for attacking help that saw the Dynamo engage in talks with several targets, including Hibernian’s Derek Riordan, Atlas’ Edgar Pacheco, and former Houston midfielder Dwayne De Rosario. After months of searching, Houston made a deadline day move for Koke to boost their attacking crew.
Since arriving in April, the Spanish forward struggled to break into the starting lineup ahead of in-form strikers Will Bruin and Cam Weaver. Starting two of his seven games, the striker scored one goal but failed to put his stamp on the game for much of his time on the pitch. With his sudden departure, the Dynamo forward line will be down to three healthy options – Bruin, Weaver and Jason Garey – with Brian Ching still recovering from a foot injury and Calen Carr still out due to a preseason concussion.
With the depleted attack, Houston’s search for a player has already begun. Koke’s departure will free up significant cap space, giving the club room to work while seeking a player in the summer transfer window, which opens July 15.
“We’ve already initiated our search for other attacking players and have pinpointed a few guys that we’ll target,” Canetti said. “We’re better off with this happening now instead of a few months from now. Now we’re in a position to regroup and have time to work toward finding a player in the summer to help us.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on twitter at @Dynamoexaminer.